Snapshot of presidential photographers


Interesting project!

University of Tennessee news release:

KNOXVILLE--As President's Day approaches, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Journalism Professor Michael Martinez is busy studying U.S. commanders-in-chief through the lens of the White House photographers.

Since John F. Kennedy started the tradition of hiring a White House photographer, these cameramen have given the public a close, sometimes intimate, look at America's first family. Martinez is working on a book looking at the public's memory of U.S. presidents as portrayed through these photographs.

Martinez, who spent years as a photojournalist, graphics editor and web producer, is particularly interested in Gerald Ford's photographer, David Hume Kennerly. He received a grant from the Ford Library to research the relationship between Ford and Kennerly, and he hopes to interview Kennerly soon.

"There are two main things I'm very curious about," Martinez said. "Ford knew Kennerly for only about a week before he offered him a job. Why Kennerly instead of, say, one of the press corps photographers? And also, what does Kennerly think his influence was on the president?"

Martinez said Kennerly was given more access than any other presidential photographer. He was free to walk into most any meeting. He enjoyed cocktails with the president at the end of the day. He took photos of Betty Ford as she recuperated from breast cancer surgery. He was friends with the Ford children--and even conspired with them to convince their parents the family needed a dog.

Ford reaching down to pet his golden retriever, Liberty, while working at his desk in the Oval Office in November 1974 is one of Martinez's favorite shots.

"It kind of epitomizes the humanness," Martinez said.

Records also hint that Kennerly had the president's ear.

Once a war correspondent, Kennerly convinced Ford to let him travel with a general sent to Vietnam to evaluate the war situation.

"He wanted to show President Ford his version of Vietnam as opposed to the military version," Martinez said. "He showed him refugees and the suffering. I want to ask him how he thinks that affected Ford's policy on Vietnam."

Studying papers in the Ford Library, Martinez also found evidence that Kennerly spoke up during at least one high-level cabinet meeting, expressing his thoughts on how the U.S. should respond to the Mayaguez seizure by Cambodia.

While Kennerly's work is central to Martinez's research, he's looking at other presidential photographers, too. Aside from Kennerly, there are four who are still living: David Valdez, who worked for George H.W. Bush; Bob McNeely, who worked for Bill Clinton; Eric Draper, who worked for George W. Bush; and Pete Souza, who works for Barack Obama.

He has another grant from the American Journalism Historians Association to do some research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, this summer. He's planning to make it a road trip, stopping along the way at Bill Clinton's library in Little Rock, Arkansas, George H. W. Bush's library in College Station, Texas, and George W. Bush's library in Dallas.

The relationship between the president and his photographer often reveals something about the man in the Oval Office, Martinez said.

Media-wise presidents, like Kennedy and Reagan, gave their photographers more leeway, while presidents who struggled with their public personas, like Johnson, Nixon and Carter, were more cautious about having their lives documented on film.

"Because he'd taken such a beating in the presidential debates, Nixon was very concerned about his image. Nixon very much stage-managed everything," Martinez said.

Yet, interestingly, the most requested presidential photo from the Library of Congress is White House photographer Ollie Atkin's portrait of Nixon with Elvis Presley. "It's OK, but it's not a dynamic photograph," Martinez said.

Jimmy Carter didn't have an official White House photographer.

"Carter was confrontational with the media sometimes. I don't think he was as media savvy."

Despite the differences between the photographers and their access to the presidents, there is a common thread. "They are passionate about their work," Martinez said. "They see their role as documenting the presidency for posterity."

Martinez worked at the Associated Press in New York, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Detroit News, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered presidential and vice presidential debates, a political convention, four Super Bowls, the Timothy McVeigh trial and two Olympics--Lillehammer 1994 and Atlanta 1996. He also worked for four Olympic organizing committees: Sydney 2000, Salt Lake City 2002, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.


CUTLINE: President Gerald Ford and his golden retriever Liberty in the Oval Office. Photographed by David Hume Kennerly on Nov. 7, 1974. Photo courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library.

CUTLINE: Elvis Presley meets with President Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Photographed by Ollie Atkins on Dec. 21, 1970. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Kennerly photo 1.jpg

Google most trusted source for news and information

Newspapers, and legacy media in general, have always thought that a key competitive advantage is being viewed as a "trusted source" of news and information.

You've heard the punch line: "I saw it on the Internet, it must be true."

While newspapers don't have the technical prowness of a Google (or any number of Silicon Valley companies) or the "metabolism" (the new buzz term) of a Buzzfeed or a Gawker, or the scale of Yahoo, they owned "trusted source."

So the thinking goes ... until it collides with changing audience perceptions.

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer shows search engines (that means Google) have become the most trusted source of  general news and information among the "informed public" (college-educated, affluent, media consumers).

It's trend that continues to see the number of people decline who turn to newspapers as a first source of general information or breaking news and as a source to validate business news.


TV's influence is holding up better, holding flat or declining (instead of just declining). It has passed newspapers as source for general information, but it's mostly a race to own the bottom. Search is tied with TV as a source for breaking news and is by far the first source used to confirm or validate news.

And when it comes to social networks, we're most trusting of our family and friends than journalists. I'm not sure what that means if your friends and family are journalists?

The shift in trust is even more pronounced among "informed public" Millennials, where search enignes are the most trusted source for 72 percent vs 64 percent for traditional media (a slightly higher percentage than overall).

Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer for Millenails

Although it's not confirmed in the public-facing data, I suspect the explanation for the survey results is the convenience and perceived comprehensiveness of news-search results -- also the perceived objectivity. However "trust" is a complex and opaque term that can mean a number different things to different people.

Google's brand strength around the world is also likely a factor in these rankings.

-- Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land.

(Click on the images for larger views.)

W. Horace CarterGood watch for this holiday weekend, "The Editor and the Dragon," the story of W. Horace Carter (Jan. 20, 1921 - Sept. 16, 2009), a community newspaper editor in Tabor City, N.C., who courageously editorialized against the Carolina Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s as the organization was gaining power in the region around this town on the North and South Carolina border.

Carter survived death threats against himself and his family, and threats of economic boycotts against his paper. He says in the documentary "it would have been a much better story if I had got killed."

Carter's Tabor City Tribune and fellow Columbus County newspaper editor, Willard Cole of the Whiteville News Reporter, shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service journalism in 1953 for their editorials in opposition to the Klan and its violent activities.

Watch the documentary, which is narrated by Morgan Freeman. Also, here's a fascinating back story of the Carter's life and times.

The Dragon and the Editor

(W. Horace Carter photo from the Carter-Klan Documentary Project)

CNN gets FAA approval for drone tests

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My guess is this news is huge for news media use of drone aircraft.

News media heavyweight CNN has reached an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designed to usher in the use of drones in newsgathering and reporting. CNN plans on experimenting with the vehicles in producing video content, while the government agency says the initiative will help to inform its drone policy moving forward.

See story at

(Video: Matt Waite demonstrating drone at ONA conference in 2013.)

An ancient list of digital newspapers

David Carlson reminded me today of a list I created in November 1993 of all the U.S. newspapers I knew of that had electronic new services.

It wasn't a long list.

From jdlail@MAMACLAUS.OPUP.ORG Wed Dec  1 15:13:53 1993
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1993 20:45:13 -0500
From: jack lail <jdlail@MAMACLAUS.OPUP.ORG>
Reply to: Computer-assisted Reporting & Research <CARR-L@ULKYVM.LOUISVILLE.EDU>
To: Multiple recipients of list CARR-L <CARR-L@ULKYVM.LOUISVILLE.EDU>
Subject: Corrected Newspaper Electronic Services List

Yet another revision. Hopefully the last for awhile.

                     Newspapers with electronic services

The Albuquerque Tribune
Electronic Trib
Access: (505) 823-7700 or 823-7701, subscription
Launched: 1990
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Access Atlanta
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1989
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Access: Prodigy
Launched: February 1994
The Charlotte Observer
The Observer Online
Access: (704) 358-5072
Launched: 1992
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Online
Access: America Online, keyword Trib
Launched: 1992
The (Danbury, Conn.) News-Times
The News-Times BBS
Access: 203-792-6397
Launched: Sept. 1993
Detroit Free Press
Access: CompuServe
Launched: First quarter 1994
Florida Today
Florida Today
Access: CompuServe, go FLATODAY
Launched: February 1993
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1982
Gannett Suburban Newspapers
New York NewsLink
Access: CompuServe, Go NEWYORK
Launched: October 1993
Kansas City Star
Access: Dial-up
Launched: 1994
Los Angeles Times
Access: Prodigy
Launched: mid-1994
Middlesex News
The Middlesex Gopher
Access: via Internet, gopher
Launched: September 1993
Middlesex News
Fred the Computer
Access: (508) 872-8461
Launched: 1987
Middlesex News
The Middlesex Mailing List
Access: via Internet,
Launched: October 1993
Access: Prodigy
Launched: mid-1994
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Access: dial-up, subscription
Launched: 1992
The Poughkeepsie Journal
The Poughkeepsie Journal BBS
Access: 914-437-4936
Launched: November 1992
The (Raleigh) News & Observer
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: January 1994
San Jose Mercury News
Mercury Center
Access: America Online, keyword mc news
Launched: May 1993
The Spokesman-Review/Spokane Chronicle
S-R Minerva
Access: (509)459-5233
Launched: 1992
The Washington Post
Access: Dial-up, subscription
Launched: Summer 1994
Sources: NAA, Mark Leff's list, various newspapers. Thanks for all the
pointers from CARR-L readers.

Social media drives traffic, but the prize is direct users

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Referral traffic to news sites

Facebook is an important source of website referrals for many news outlets, but the users who arrive via Facebook spend far less time and consume far fewer pages than those who arrive directly. The same is true of users arriving by search. Our analysis of comScore data found visitors who go to a news media website directly spend roughly three times as long as those who wind up there through search or Facebook, and they view roughly five times as many pages per month. This higher level of engagement from direct visitors is evident whether a site's traffic is driven by search or social sharing and it has big implications for news organizations who are experimenting with digital subscriptions while endeavoring to build a loyal audience.

Great piece by the Pew Research Center on "How social media is reshaping news."

(Image from Pew Research Center)


Evolving is a painful process

Tne Tennessean

For many, working at a newspaper doesn't seem all that fun anymore.

Chas Sisk had had enough.

The Tennessean had just fired Sisk and the entire staff of the paper the day before and asked them to reapply for their jobs. The reorganization was announced in the paper by executive editor Stefanie Murray as a "bold step forward in our evolution."

The Nashville Scene